Weaning has an undeniable emotional impact on many mothers, as they struggle to let go of the physical connection they once shared with their nursing tot. Along with this emotional challenge often also comes slight physical pain in the form of breast tenderness. As your body adjusts to your lack of nursing, you will likely experience some minor discomfort. This tenderness is perfectly normal and, in most cases, quite mild.
Why the Pain?
Breast tenderness during weaning is a result of breast engorgement. As a nursing mother, your body is accustomed to producing milk, which your baby then suckles from you. When you stop this natural milk release, your body struggles to handle the change. It can not immediately stop producing milk but must do so gradually. As your body produces milk, your breasts become engorged, leading to breast swelling and pain for those in the midst of the weaning process.
Preventing Weaning Pain
With a little planning, you can prevent some of this weaning-related pain. If, instead of stopping cold turkey, you gradually reduce the frequency with which you breast feed your baby, you can allow your body more time to adjust. As your body becomes accustomed to expelling milk less frequently, it will slow down milk producing, likely decreasing the severity of your breast tenderness when you do give up breast feeding entirely.
Temporary Pain Relief
There is no need to suffer through weaning-related bouts of breast tenderness. Instead of allowing your aching breasts to slow down your busy-mom lifestyle, you can assuage the pain with home treatments. Applying chilled cold packs to your breasts or going to bed with a warm water bottle may help ease some of your discomfort and make your breast tenderness easier to bear. You can also cut down on the pain you feel by taking over-the-counter pain relievers.
Length of Weaning Pain
When you wean, any breast tenderness you experience will likely be fleeting in nature. In most cases, your body stops making milk within a week, meaning that you can expect the worst of your breast tenderness to stop after seven days. Many women only report severe breast tenderness for the first one to five days of the weaning process, reports WebMD.
When to Call the Doctor
In all likelihood, you will make it through the weaning process unscathed and without the assistance of medical attention; however, you should not be hesitant to contact your doctor if need be. If during your weaning process you experience severe breast pain or the pain fails to let up after several days, contact your doctor.